Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman

Anne Fadiman, the author of Ex Libris, a book of essays about reading, is the best friend all readers and word lovers wish they had. With a gentle self-mocking humor, she examines the part books have played in her, her husband’s, her parents’, her  brother’s and her friends’ lives.  She discusses books: the buying, collecting, reading, shelving, inscribing and care of them.  She describes a marriage in which merging book collections is a more difficult task than dividing chores or managing a family budget. She depicts a family that pores over a restaurant menu, not for descriptions of the food they might eat but to search for spelling and grammatical errors. While reading older books, she mourns for the vocabulary and rejoices at the gender roles we have lost. She explains why parents’ reading for their own pleasure is important to instilling a love of reading in their children.  And, although the readers know that Anne and her family and friends are probably smarter and better educated than we are, she lets us know that the love of books (any and all) is a common denominator which unites rather than divides.